Today I started my day getting coffee at my favorite place in Boise.  Through the years, I’ve learned how to answer their daily question of, “What are you doing today?” with “running errands” or “not much.”  Occasionally, when I’m in desperate need of coffee, I slip up and answer, “Just heading to work.”  I rarely mention that I’m heading to work  because of the responses I nine times out of ten get:  “Oh FUN!” “That must be the best job ever!”  “Do you get to hold babies all day?”  Today’s response was, “Aww… that’s so sweet.”  

I’ve been working in adoption for 22 years.  While some of my days are “fun,” a more typical day can be described as “hard,” “emotionally draining,” “unpredictable.”  Do I believe in adoption and think it can be very beautiful?  I definitely do and there’s no way I could continue working the long hours, being on call 24/7, often losing sleep, and trying hard to juggle work life and personal life – these are things my entire staff does.  

The reality is, adoption begins with loss:  the loss of her baby for a birthmother; the loss of not being able to have a biological child for the adoptive parents; and the loss of their biological family for the adoptees.  For a child adopted internationally, there is not only the loss of biological family, but also the loss of growing up in their culture.  For a child adopted from foster care, there’s the first loss of biological family, but also the often many losses that follow of foster families, friends, and caseworkers.  

Adoption is a journey for all involved.  There are ups and downs, unanswered questions, the search for identity as an adoptee, and often anxiety for the adoptive parents.  Birth parents may experience rejection and judgment from friends, family, and their community.  

My call to action would be to those of us impacted by adoption to educate people we come in contact with.  As an adoptive mom, I’ve had wonderful and beautiful experiences with my daughter, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t experienced any losses.  I’ve gotten to know some amazing birthmothers in the past 22 years and can honestly say they are the most selfless and strongest women I have ever met, making a decision that most of us would not be strong enough to make.  

Adoption is beautiful, complex, stressful, loving, amazing, hard, emotional, and….. Fun.  As the Director of A New Beginning, I have the privilege and honor of holding a newborn baby maybe once a year.  If there were babies in our office every day, my staff and I would not get anything done because holding babies all day would definitely be the best job ever!  

Stephanie Pearl is an adoptive parent, and the Executive Director of A New Beginning Adoption Agency. She has 25 years of experience in the social work field working in nursing homes, elementary schools, the juvenile justice system and family services.